All Disney World resorts are reopening!

Today marked another milestone in the gradual reopening of Walt Disney World: the return of All Star Sports. We mention this not because we’re big fans of the hotel (it’s only our second favorite ASS at WDW, after Alien Swirling Saucers) but because for the first time since March 2020, all Walt Hotels Disney World are open.

The road to recovery has been long and slow for Walt Disney World resorts, spanning almost two years at this point. Disney Vacation Club resorts began welcoming guests in June 2020, even before the parks reopened. Other hotels came back slowly, with several false starts and postponements due to low occupancy.

The most extreme example is Animal Kingdom Lodge, which operates at around 10% occupancy because hotel rooms were not in use at the time. We’ve done a number of “surreal vacations” back when resorts were real ghost towns – like haunted hotels in real life. It was moving and uplifting at the time, a breath of fresh air after being stuck at home for two months.

Honestly, those memories haven’t aged well. Don’t get me wrong, we’re still very grateful to have had Walt Disney World in our backyard and to have been able to get back to doing things sooner than most people. We were also pleased that the resorts were relatively quiet and that Disney took health safety protocol seriously at the time.

On top of that, the months-long closure has put things into perspective and given us a new appreciation for Walt Disney World. All of this caused a reset that was, frankly, necessary for us as far as Disney was concerned. Even now, with one frustrating decision after another by society, we’re still not taking parks and resorts themselves for granted.

However, these visits and stays after the reopening are not good memories because they are inextricably linked to what was happening in the real world at the time. Fear, uncertainty, anger, arguments and everything else. Back then, returning to Walt Disney World was a well-deserved respite from it all. Now, it just mixes with the scars, the traumas or whatever you want to call it from this spring and summer.

A few readers have asked us to do a retrospective or look back on the closure of Walt Disney World, and I guess that will have to suffice. Otherwise, I’m absolutely not interested in revisiting 2020. It’s not just a Disney thing either. We have long since “retired” other habits, from the foods we ate regularly to our walking route around the neighborhood. Suffice it to say, we won’t be watching the inevitable Disney Movie of the Year, and I certainly won’t be writing about it.

This is probably a weird digression, but the fact is that I’m very happy to not only have every resort back, but also to have them and the parks full of people. Walt Disney World crowds are a hot topic here, but honestly, right now, I don’t mind it in the slightest. On the contrary, the ghost town parks of late summer 2020 marred the empty park experience for me. (These perspectives on low and high crowds, I suspect, will fade in due course.)

All of this goes a long way to explaining why we’ve been “celebrating” every seemingly insignificant development in Walt Disney World’s return to normal. Every gradual step from the gradual reopening to the pre-closure experience, even if it’s something we don’t care about at all, It’s good news. This should go without saying, but it’s great for cast members and other people who like these things. For us, it’s also a bit cathartic, like a bit of closure.

I don’t know how else to explain my emotional reaction upon hearing the news of the reopening of Disney’s All Star Sports Resort. (Well, I also laughed when I heard that they did do not remodeling rooms during extended shutdown.) This is literally my least favorite hotel at Walt Disney World – too many unpleasant memories of stays during Pop Warner or something random cheerleading. And yet, here I am far too happy with this news.

See Walt Disney World’s update on the reopening of All Star Sports “got me.” As a result, cast members were all smiles when the first guests arrived, and the excitement only grew as guests once again played, dined, and enjoyed their favorite sports areas of the resort.

In this rambling context, I hope you enjoy this corny video as much as I do:

Throughout the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, approximately 70,000 Cast Members have been welcomed back into a variety of roles. From housekeeping to merchandise, engineering services to food and beverage, these Cast Members bring parks and resorts to life.

These Cast Members are the heart and soul of Walt Disney World, and we’re so happy to see more and more of them coming back.

To give this article some practical purpose and value beyond my ramblings, let’s quickly discuss the potential implications of Walt Disney World reopening another resort. As you probably know, some hotels are already “full” or rather unavailable for many dates in the coming months. (To see What’s going on with sold out hotels at Walt Disney World?)

This is still a problem, but it seems to be improving based on our recent availability research (knock on wood). We’ve found everything from single nights to week-long stays in nearly every resort (aside from luxury villas) and room categories. That’s a night and day difference from last holiday season.

That said, it’s not just a byproduct of more resorts reopening — or anything else. The problem persisted last fall even after all stations but All Star Sports reopened, and that’s because even the operating stations were understaffed. Consequently, entire sections of Port Orleans and other resort towns were unfilled.

Staffing shortages have clearly been addressed to some extent, as evidenced by standard housekeeping practices that have resumed at many resorts. (To see What’s up with hotel housekeeping at Walt Disney World?) Our guess is that All Star Sports does not open with just a few buildings in use. It’s probably much closer to normal guest loads, meaning it should help absorb demand significantly.

In the end, we’re probably not out of the woods yet with the resort availability issues at Walt Disney World, even though all hotels are now open for the first time in over 2 years. We’ve had glimmers of hope for normalization in the past, only for another surge of pent-up demand to disabuse us of those notions. (I wrote that Park Pass reservations would probably be a “formality” after the holiday season, and that was clearly untrue!)

It remains to be seen how the supply versus demand saga will continue to play out at Walt Disney World, and when discounts, resort occupancy, restaurant capacity and so many operational aspects will stabilize. What we do know is that we are savoring every little bit of normalcy that returns, and we would certainly be love to accommodate things like the Disney dining plan, bounce deals, full menus and more. In the meantime, we’re going to be patient and appreciate what we have.

Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Learn more about the hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotel Reviews page. To find out where to eat, read our Walt Disney World restaurant reviews. To save money on tickets or figure out which type to buy, read our tips for saving money on Walt Disney World tickets. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips article takes a unique look at smart items to pack. To know what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride guides will help you. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Travel Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

Thinking about the reopening of Disney’s All Star Sports Resort? Are you happy that the “era” of the phased reopening of Walt Disney World is finally coming to an end, or do you miss the low attendance of summer 2020? Have you noticed more resort availability on Disneyworld.com over the past two months, even as the parks have become busier? Any comments on anything else discussed here? Do you agree or disagree with our WDW assessment? Questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback – even when you disagree with us – is both interesting for us and helpful for other readers, so share your thoughts below in the comments!

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